What Fountain Pen Nib Should I Choose?

The size of the nib is an important factor when choosing a fountain pen nib, but it should not be overwhelming, so here’s some tips to make your choice easier.

Tip One: Test a Fountain Pen or Two

Test a pen. If you don’t have access to a fountain pen to try, particularly, if it’s your first fountain pen purchase, simply use the generic nib that the pen comes with. Using a fountain pen and feeling how a nib writes is the first step to understanding what nib you might prefer. All the nibs in our pens are easily upgradeable to a Bock or Jowo nib for example at any time. We can change the nib for you upon purchase or if you bring your pen to our home studio or the Markets. It’s also so easy we offer full instructions and video calls to ensure you can do it yourself.

Tip Two: Consider the Nib Material

Fountain pen nibs are made from different metals ranging from stainless steel to precious metals such as gold. The more valuable the material the softer and smoother the writing will feel when using the pen. Some manufacturers use a cheaper material as the base and then tip the nib with a more expensive material such as iridium or gold to create a smoother nib. Also note that the colour of a nib does not always indicate whether it is made from gold or steel, for example some gold nibs are plated with a metal like rhodium which is silvery. Real gold nibs usually have an imprint specifying its gold content, for example 14K or 18K.

So while one needs to consider the nib material, the tipping of the nib is of vital importance as it has a great affect on the nibs performance.  Both steel and gold nibs are usually tipped with other harder metals like iridium, osmium, and tungsten.

So consider your writing style, how soft and smooth do you prefer the nib to feel? Or is firm most pleasant in your hand? 

Tip Three: Choose the Nib Shape

 The majority of fountain pen nibs have round tips, which create uniform lines regardless of the direction or orientation of the nib to the paper. Another tip shape is italic, which is sometimes referred to as a stub or calligraphy tip. The tips of italic nibs are wide and flat, creating wide vertical strokes and narrow horizontal strokes. While italic nibs are great for calligraphy, they can also be used to add a bit of style to any writing. They do require a bit more practice but many people find the results more than worth the additional effort.

As yet we only stock round nibs. If you would like a specialty nib, we can source one for you, please contact us for pricing. 

Tip Four: Nib Size for wide or Thin Lines

After tip shape, the tip size of a nib will have the biggest impact on how a fountain pen writes. Larger tip sizes create wide lines suitable for bold or large writing. Round nibs typically fall into one of four tip sizes: Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), and Broad (B). 

  • Medium  sized nibs are commonly used by many people for everyday writing as they create a writing line close to that of a  ballpoint pen. If you aren’t sure which nib you’d like, maybe start with a medium unless you have very small writing, in that case trial a fine nib.
  • Finer nibs tend to have a more controlled flow, making them more tolerant of varying qualities of paper. Finer nibs are typically not quite as smooth as broader nibs.

Tip Five: Flexibility

Most fountain pens have firm writing nibs that offer little flexibility. For a flexible option consider:

  • A flex nib is a specialty nib that allows the creation of different line widths. It has a non-rigid structure that allows a user to control their line width by adjusting the pressure of the pen on paper.
  • Gold is a springier material than steel.

In summary, nib choice truely is a personal preference, no nib is right or wrong. 

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